Browns should have interest in newly available free-agent running back

The Cleveland Browns need running back depth and a talented option just hit the open market

Cleveland Browns, Alexander Mattison
Cleveland Browns, Alexander Mattison / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

All eyes are on the Scouting Combine and NFL Draft right now but free agency is right around the corner. And the Cleveland Browns might have been given a new free-agent target thanks to a familiar face.

The Minnesota Vikings, led by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah — a former Cleveland vice president of football operations — just released Alexander Mattison. A former third-round pick, Mattison replaced Dalvin Cook in 2023 and was a disappointment for the Vikings.

Mattison finished the season with 700 yards and no touchdowns on the ground — although he did score three receiving touchdowns. Those numbers aren't encouraging but they could play into Cleveland's favor. Mattison, who was on a two-year deal worth $7 million, won't cost much at all to sign now.

He's also just 25 years of age with an unusual combination of experience and tread remaining.

In five seasons, Matison ran the ball just 584 times for 2,370 yards with 11 touchdowns. In a reserve role, behind Cook, he had more than 400 yards in each of his first three seasons.

Ideally with the Browns, this would be the same role.

Cleveland is expected to retain Nick Chubb, who tore his ACL and MCL in 2023. They still have Jerome Ford but he was far from consistent in place of Chubb. Throwing Mattison into the mix would give them a 221-pound backup who could push Ford for the No. 2 job.

Should he prove to be the better option, then he can start until Chubb is 100 percent. If not, the Browns wouldn't be on the hook for a major contract. That also means his presence wouldn't prevent them from going after a back in the draft.

In the end, this could be the exact type of insurance signing they need to make to keep the ground game humming in 2024.

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